Several studies have demonstrated that women have greater mobility disability than men. The goals of this research were: 1) to assess the gender gap in mobility difficulty in 70 countries; 2) to determine whether the gender gap is explained by sociodemographic and health factors; 3) to determine whether the gender gap differs across 6 regions of the world with different degrees of gender equality according to United Nations data.
Population-based data were used from the World Health Survey (WHS) conducted in 70 countries throughout the world. 276,647 adults aged 18years and over were recruited from 6 world regions. Mobility was measured by asking the level of difficulty people had moving around in the last 30days and then creating a dichotomous measure (no difficulty, difficulty). The human development index and the gender-related development index for each country were obtained from the United Nations Development Program website. Poisson regression with Taylor series linearized variance estimation was used.
Women were more likely than men to report mobility difficulty (38% versus 27%, P<0.0001). The age-adjusted prevalence rate ratio for female gender was 1.35 (95% CI 1.31–1.38). The addition of education, marital status, and urban versus rural setting reduced the prevalence rate ratio to 1.30 (95% CI 1.26–1.33). The addition of the presence of back pain, arthritis, angina, depressive symptoms, and cognitive difficulties further reduced the prevalence rate ratio to 1.12 (95% CI 1.09–1.15). There was statistical interaction on the multiplicative scale between female gender and region (P<0.01). The Eastern Mediterranean region, which had the greatest loss of human development due to gender inequality, showed the largest gender gap in mobility difficulty, while the Western Pacific region, with the smallest loss of human development due to gender inequality, had the smallest gender gap in mobility difficulty.
These are the first world-wide data to examine the gender gap in mobility. Differences in chronic diseases are the main reasons for this gender gap. The gender gap seems to be greater in regions with the largest loss of human development due to gender inequality.
Keywords: Gender, Inequality, Mobility, Human development index, Gender-related development index